CAPSTONE PROJECT: I am not an Alien
On Thursday February 5th about 25 people, students and adults, came out at 7:30 p.m. to the James River gym and participated in a groovy Latin dance class. Tickets were $2 and benefitted an organization called "Wayside Center for Popular Education", a non-for-profit movement resource center in Central Virginia. that hosts workshops, supports organizing, and offers accessible retreat space for social justice organizations. The class was about an hour or so long and included traditional folk dances from Mexico and Panama and more modern partner dances, such as salsa, cumbia, bachata, and merengue. The class got people moving and immersed in the beautiful Latin culture; refreshments were served after the class.
On Saturday, February 7th, about 35 people attended a panel in the James River library at 12:30 and were served delicious Latin American food (and cookies) before everything started. The project title "I Am Not An Alien" refers to the term "illegal alien", bringing to light how inappropriate and hurtful it is. The speakers told personal stories, explained situations, and talked about ways to get involved in the community. There were a total of 9 speakers: an immigration attorney- Nash Fayad, a community organizer- Dustin King, Iria's dad- Aroldo Gomez, Wayside's Coordinator- Carolina Velez, and 5 ESOL students from James River, Masiel, Michael, Dania, and Josue. The panel tugged at people's heart strings and brought a different perspective to the table. Iria's father spoke and was almost in tears by the end of it, along with some of the people in the audience. Leadership seniors, Belle Cifu and Jordan Richardson, were "very moved by all of the stories and had fun learning so much about immigration and Latin American culture!" Several issues and situations were addressed that millions of immigrants in this country face daily and some of the speakers spoke in Spanish but Iria's mom made it possible for everyone to understand with the help of some translating equipment. Donations were accepted, overall bringing the total amount raised to $186.50, an incredible amount of money to donate to a great cause.